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After reading that Emily and Vance met during a welcome picnic in college, when Vance used the successful pickup line “I like your pants,” I knew their wedding would be anything but ordinary! For these two actors, the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater was the perfect place to say their own vows, that included such sweet sentiments as Emily’s vow to put Vance before herself, and that it was “the greatest gift to do that so entirely organically and without hesitation.” I just love that so much! These now-New Yorkers knew they wanted to get married in their college town in West Virginia, and they felt right at home on the rooftop of the boutique Chestnut Hotel for their reception. Of course, the addition of some good ol’ Southern food always helps!

Big hugs to Veronica Varos for sending this lovely day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My best friend was coming to town, so I googled a couple of places in NYC to go dress shopping. I’m so happy I found Saja, a small designer boutique in SOHO where everyone was lovely, and all the dresses were simple and elegant–perfect for chill, approachable brides like myself. I tried on five, and I thought, “Well, it’s for sure one of those five, and I have no interest in going anywhere else!” I narrowed it down to two, and went back a couple of weeks later with another friend. I walked out in my dress, and she said “That’s it!”

We knew we wanted to get married in our college town. Since we weren’t able to be there all the time, we enlisted the help of my sister, who was local. She was the one who suggested both the locations for the ceremony and the reception, and after visiting a couple of places, we were sold. We held our ceremony at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater, which is on the water, has a gorgeous view, and had a stage feel, perfect for us actors. The reception was at the Rock Top Lounge at the Chestnut Hotel–a sweet little boutique hotel where we all stayed. The rooftop was PERFECT! It felt so New York-esque, and as New Yorkers now, we just fell in love with it.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we did! My favorite line of mine was: “This is the greatest thing I could ever do–marry you. We’ve already started a life together, and I sincerely love living every day with two hearts. I put yours before mine, and it’s the greatest gift to do that so entirely organically and without hesitation. I will love you every day as hard as I can until I love you more than I love myself….You’re everything I could ever need to live a happy, happy life.” My favorite part of his: “Through all the changes, we just keep falling in love with each other…As human beings, we change. Life happens. And this might be weird, but I promise to continue to grow–to evolve with each other. To learn from you. And I’m so glad I have the opportunity to keep falling in love with you time and time again.”

My flowers were absolutely perfect! My florist was so patient with me. I had so many images in my head, like desert meets neon meets bohemian meets funk meets watercolors. I gave her a wide variety of color schemes and told her what kinds of flowers I liked. Then, she made magic happen! She had never seen my husband’s shirt, but somehow, she matched all the flowers to his shirt and our kooky color scheme perfectly!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be true to YOU! Everyone was blown away by our wedding (so humbling to hear that!), and it’s because they had “never been to a wedding like that before!”–the highest compliment. So be creative, and put your funky stamp on all of it!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? All of it was memorable, but I’d say the moment when my husband and I were up on the stage with our dream band playing our favorite song, and we were dancing like nobody was watching, was my absolute favorite! It was pure joy! I took a deep breath to try to soak up that moment, and I will never let it go!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We were both theatre majors, and we spotted each other at orientation during our first year of college. At the welcome picnic, he approached me with a really good pickup line: “I like your pants.” Well, I was hooked. We ate pizza together by a tree and giggled as I got to know the most different and charming boy I’d ever met. We went on our first date three days later. He asked me to be his girlfriend the very next day, and I freaked out a little bit because I barely knew him. It was weird for a few months, but having almost every class together, we became friends. We both dated other folks for a few years, and during our junior year, we were forced to do a love scene together and spent a lot of time together rehearsing. We realized, “What are we doing!? We’re in love!” We started dating in January 2007 and got married in 2014.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was my birthday, and Vance had planned a fun-filled day with many little surprise events that friends could join in on: dinner, the zoo, a movie…ending with a huge private room just for us and our friends at a laser tag arena (mind you, this is something we never do, but we’re adventurous, so I was up for it!). Vance and I were on the same team with a couple of our friends. I was getting super into it, and mid-match, I said, “Where should we hide!?” to Vance. He replied, “Over there! By the inflatable tank!” I army crawled over there, and once I made it, I asked him, “Now what!?” He pulled out the ring and said, “Well, how about you marry me?” I toppled over in tears and giggled with excitement as I said yes, and we had about four minutes of the most lovely private time together, even though we were surrounded by chaos. Then, we half-heartedly continued the match, until our team lost. While the other team was shoving it in our faces, I lifted my hand and was immediately met with cheers of joy. It was perfect. Silly, so us, and both private and lovely, followed by a celebration with my best friends.
When did y’all get married? September 13, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? A little over 200
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I come from a huge Italian family, so as per tradition, all the moms, aunts, cousins, and grandmas baked a boatload of cookies. As if over 2000 cookies wasn’t enough, I still wanted to have a ceremonial cake to cut, so my aunt made us an Italian cream wedding cake, decorated with coconut and raspberries. It was so amazing!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our entire menu was Southern fare: pulled pork, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, asparagus, biscuits, salad (with my aunt’s homemade dressing), and more.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Anywhere we could save, we did. Since our ceremony venue was at a state park, it was wonderfully cheap!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We have been together for a long time, so not much about our day-to-day has changed, but the energy has most certainly changed. My best friend described it as being “freeing”–knowing you can go forth and conquer the world, as an individual and as a couple. I feel so blessed that we earned this marriage… we went though so much together in our long relationship pre-wedding. We’re looking forward to our honeymoon to Mexico in January!

Photographer: Veronica Varos / Videographer: Pictory Productions / Ceremony Venue: Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater / Reception Venue: The Chestnut Hotel / Florist: Blooms Florist / Band: Wesley Bright & the Hi-Lites / Bride’s Gown: Saja

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Olivia Fischer reply

    Colorful and Lovely photography!

  2. avatar Veronica Varos reply

    Thank you for sharing Emily + Vance’s story, SWM! <3

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Whenever I hear that one of our Real Weddings took place at a historic plantation, I’m instantly excited to see it! Maybe it stems from my love for Gone with the Wind or the amazing antebellum homes of Mobile that I grew up visiting. Either way, they’re so Southern, and completely romantic! Page and Blake chose to tie the knot at the beautiful Pebble Hill Plantation, and just as I suspected, Pebble Hill was the perfect backdrop for their big day! I know Emily (who had a tented reception herself!) would be equally smitten with their classic white Sperry Tent and twinkle light combo!

We’re so happy Harwell Photography was on hand to capture this lovely day!

Describe your wedding flowers. I wanted something simple, elegant, and in all soft colors. We had a great florist who brought my vision to life. My bouquet was full of white and ivory peonies, seeded eucalyptus, and dusty miller.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I was lucky to have had a stress-free experience, and I tried on around ten dresses total. I knew that I wanted something strapless and lace, and once I found one that I loved, I didn’t hesitate to say yes to the dress!

We had a first look, and I am so glad we did. We wanted to have a special moment together, just the two of us. It was also less stressful getting a lot of pictures done beforehand, so we didn’t keep all our family and friends waiting!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We decided on traditional vows. We asked our former teacher and good friend to perform the ceremony, while one of Blake’s groomsmen led a prayer. Having a Christ-centered marriage is very important to us, so we had Ephesians 5:25 and Isaiah 61:3b read: “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” This verse went perfectly with our ceremony under the giant oak tree!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: One neat detail was the horse and carriage we had waiting at the end of the aisle to pick us up after the ceremony. Riding it gave us the chance to be alone together in the moments right after becoming husband and wife. We wanted to remind each other to enjoy every minute, knowing the night would go by fast! It was also our getaway “car,” which was so fun and unique. At the end of the night, we were able to ride around the property for a little bit, already reliving every minute of the day! It was magical.

Our food was very Southern, and it was a hit! We served watermelon salad with candied pecans, quail with tomato jam, fried green tomatoes, and pimento cheese sandwiches. We had several food tables that featured seafood, beef, poultry, and a cheese display with local honey and berries. Our caterers made each table look beautiful and put a lot of effort into making great-tasting food! Towards the end of the night, we surprised our guests with a snack of chicken and biscuits.

We are blessed with awesome family and friends. With our wedding being out of town for many of our guests, we were blown away by how many people traveled to the South to celebrate with us! Our band had us come to the stage to thank all of our guests for being there. I will never forget that moment, and I’m so glad I had the chance to slow down and take that in. It reminded us how much love and support we have from everyone.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I was a sophomore and he was a junior… yes, we are high school sweethearts! We were both trying out for the musical that year, and I am pretty sure I got butterflies the first time he talked to me. Later, he sent me a Facebook message asking for my number, and soon after that, we started dating.
Tell us all about the proposal! The proposal was very much a surprise! Blake took me back to the theater at our high school, which is where we met and our story began. I walked in and he was standing at the bottom of rose petal-lined steps, and the stage was decorated with pictures from our time together. We were so excited and filled with emotion! Both of our families were there to celebrate with us afterwards. I felt so special seeing all the thought, time, and love he put into making his proposal so memorable.
When did y’all get married? May 31, 2014
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Many of my family members are in Thomasville, and I’ve spent every Christmas there, so I knew it would be the perfect location to get married. We chose Pebble Hill Plantation. We held our ceremony under the oak tree, and it fit the vision I had pictured for our wedding day perfectly! We opted for a tent for the reception, which was just steps away from the ceremony site, and kept everyone cool.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Blake chose all of our songs, which I loved, because it was one less decision I had to make! He chose “Canon in D” for me to walk down the aisle to–we loved that it was traditional and beautiful. Our first dance was “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” by Elvis Presley. Blake is a big Elvis fan, and it was perfect!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed/old was my great-great-grandmother’s pin, which I attached to my bouquet. All of the women in my family had it with them on their wedding day, so it was pretty special. My something blue was my garter and my something new was my earrings.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Many of your family and friends will want to help with planning and day-of things, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. It will make your wedding day a lot less stressful if you don’t have to worry about last minute decisions or details. Don’t forget to take time on your wedding day to slow down and take in all the details that were your vision for so long. Most importantly, remember that the day is ultimately about the two of you becoming one, so don’t sweat the small stuff!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We just got a place together in Nashville and are in the process of making it our own. We are just excited to do everyday life together! It is so wonderful to have someone to go through life’s ups and downs with and to have a constant companion and supporter.

Photographer: Jeremy Harwell / Videographer: Shutter Life Productions / Planner: Tricia Willis Custom Event Planning / Ceremony and Reception Venue: Pebble Hill Plantation / Florist: Singletary’s Florist / Cake Baker: Savannah Moon Bakery / Caterer: Jeannie Bracy and John Thomas / Rentals: Sperry Tent / Band: The RiverTown Band / Linens: La Tavola / Bride’s Gown: “Alana” by Maggie Sottero / Bridal Salon: Formally Yours / Hair Accessories: BHLDN / Hair and Makeup: Dreamstate Salon / Bride’s Shoes: “Chrissy” by J.Renee / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “555” by Bari Jay in Misty Blue /Menswear: Joseph A. Banks

Harwell Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
10 Comments
  1. avatar Robyn Van Dyke reply

    LOVE their first look image!! What a gorgeous wedding!

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  3. avatar Finley reply

    This is such a lovely and sweet style. Thanks for sharing!

  4. avatar Wedding Chalkboard Signs: 20+ Ideas For the Best Day Ever reply

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  5. avatar Deb frank reply

    what was the name of the vine you used on chalkboard

  6. avatar Andrea | The Pink Bride reply

    Such a timeless wedding! I love every detail, from the colors to the bride’s shoes. Fabulous!

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  8. avatar Lindsay reply

    What a beautiful wedding! I just love the bridesmaid’s dresses! Would you mind sharing who the designer is? I’ve fallen in love and would really like them for my wedding!

    Thanks!

  9. avatar Mariya khmaruk reply

    I love your chalkboard! I was wondering where you got it!?

  10. avatar Elisabeth Haas reply

    Hi! So I’m wondering where you got your bridesmaids dresses!

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